How can I improve my English language

Brush up on and improve your English: 7 tips

Status: 11/23/2020 4:27 p.m.

Do you want to brush up on your English skills or finally use another language you have learned in real life? These tips will help you.

The grammar is right, learning new vocabulary is actually not a problem - and yet something is missing to feel really comfortable with the foreign language: practice and self-confidence.

This is how Anthrin from the N-JOY team felt for a long time with her English. In school lessons it was always enough for a good grade - but vocabulary and grammar tests or written text analyzes are something completely different from everyday language use. And so it was always uncomfortable for Anthrin to speak English in front of other people with more language practice or in front of native speakers.

To change that, she gradually started to integrate the English language more into her everyday life. Your goal: to be more self-confident, to sound more like a native speaker. To achieve this, she tried many apps and everyday tricks. Here she reveals what really helped.

1. Find a partner to talk to

I've learned for myself: If I want to get better, I have to venture out of my own comfort zone. This includes: Speaking English with native speakers. So I just did it - with strangers I never have to see again if in doubt. I tried out a lot of apps to do this. My favorites: "Tandem" (free for iOS and Android) and "iTalki" (free for iOS and Android).

At "Tandem" you can find people from all over the world who speak your foreign language fluently. In my experience, it makes the most sense when the person learns German at the same time. So you can help each other, for example by sending each other voice messages in the app, talking via video or audio chat or simply writing to each other.

For the latter, there is a great correction function in the app, with which you can draw each other's attention to errors without constantly interrupting the flow of conversation. A great extra: you get to know interesting people from all over the world. I now have language partners from the USA, England, Jamaica and Australia with whom I have more or less regular contact.


2. Take conversation lessons

Hobby tutors and professional teachers are also on the road at "Tandem". However, getting help from them costs money. In my experience, you pay between 8 and 25 euros for an hour. The English lessons at "iTalki" (free for iOS and Android) are in a similar price range. I prefer to book my lessons via this app. In "iTalki", teachers introduce themselves in a video and describe how their lessons are going. Most of the time you have the choice between correct teaching units, in which grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation are crammed, and conversation lessons, in which you talk to the teacher about topics of your choice.


3. Learn from the mistakes of others

Another great function in "iTalki" is the free "Community": There you can ask questions, post sentences in English and ask for corrections, discuss topics from all over the world or just browse a bit to learn from the mistakes of others. Incidentally, this community idea also prevails in many Facebook groups on learning English.


4. Watch English series in the original version with English subtitles

I've heard this very obvious tip over and over again - and yet I was too lazy for a long time because it sounded like work and I want to watch series to relax. But to be honest: precisely because everyday language is mostly used in series, it really helps a lot to watch English-language series in the original. The first few weeks may be a bit exhausting, but you get used to it quickly.

In the meantime, I no longer need English subtitles for many series and films in order to understand everything. But I usually use them anyway because I can memorize formulations much better when I read them. My absolute moment of happiness? When I can use a phrase that I memorized while watching a series in a conversation with one of my tandem partners.


5. Talk to yourself

Sounds strange, but it really helps to integrate the foreign language more into everyday life and to expand my own vocabulary: When I think about something or write a WhatsApp message to friends, I often ask myself: How would I put it in English?

When I think of something, I sometimes look to see if there are any mistakes in my formulation. If I can't think of a word or phrase, I open my dictionary app and look it up. I use "dict.cc" for German-English translations and "Oxford Dictionary of English" for English-language explanations of English words.


6. Learn specific colloquial formulations

When asked why I want to improve my English, I usually say: I want to sound more like a native speaker. That's why one of my teachers practiced "idioms" with me for an hour. That showed me once more: My fear of producing embarrassing "D-English" is mostly unfounded. Because many English idioms are very similar to our German counterparts.

In addition, my teacher, who is originally from Texas, gave me a few slang tips that are particularly popular in the southern United States. He celebrates me every time I use "Y'all" (a combination of "You" and "all" that Southerners use when addressing more than one person directly) or give him a broad "Gotcha" ("I got you ") when I finally understand something. With little tricks and certain formulations, your English will sound much more authentic.


7. Read and listen in English

With all the motivation I bring: Reading whole books in English just doesn't work. As a fast reader, I simply have too little patience for this. That's why I prefer to read short English articles - for example on "theatlantic.com" or "boredpanda.com" (there are a lot of pictures!). I also enjoy listening to English audio books from books that I have already read in German. And: "TED Talks" on very different topics are super interesting and well-dosed input for the way to work, the lunch break or the time between waking up and getting up.


Conclusion: the little things make the difference

It sounds very laborious when written down. But that's not how it feels to me: A text message to a tandem partner here, a podcast episode there, a quick article about falling asleep - basically all things that I do every day, only in English instead of German. So English has become a part of my everyday life.

That's how the north snaps

Moin Moin, guys and Deerns! Now butter with the fish, in the north it löppts! Everyone understands our favorite formulations from the most beautiful part of Germany. more

 

This topic in the program:

N-JOY | N-JOY with Anne Raddatz | 11/12/2019 | 09:00 a.m.